Category Archives: Business

Creative Strategy

Let the left and right part of the brain connect and you get a creative strategy! This was the first message of Steven Kostant’s (Fleishman-Hillard) presentation Tuesday night to my capstone class at Georgetown University. Everyone needs a creative strategy to survive “the experience economy” and the highly disruptive world we live in.

 

But how do you do it? How do you create a creative strategy? It is all about the process. Kostant mentioned the art and joy of collaboration between people with different backgrounds, research, and brainstorm as essential parts of a (design or innovative) process. All of this is of course not surprising. But he offered advice about how to do it:

 

         uncover deep audience insights

         sometimes it is interesting to observe/analyze an audience who is not relevant at all to your product/policy

         focus groups are cheap but you cannot tell people what they need…..

         digital ethnography (observe your audience and put a video together or make a collage of pictures and watch it and use the knowledge in creating a strategy)

 

We also watched the old ABC Nightline show, The Deep Dive, about IDEO, the product design company in Palo Alto which among other things designed the first mouse for Apple.


I found a version of the show on YouTube. Watch it if you are about to design a process. To me it does not matter whether you are designing a shopping chart (as they do in this case) or a new communications strategy.

 

 

 

My take away:

         include people in your project group who does not necessary listen to you, but try out things and asks for forgiveness

         Set a deadline and drive accountability

         Be careful to bring in the devil’s advocate too early

My Second Life: Under Construction

Click. Choose a name.

Click. Choose an identity for your avatar. Female or male? Girl/boy next door, City Chic, Harajuka, Cybergroth, Furry or night club?
Click. Here’s my Second Life identity.    


me_in_sl.jpg

I have chosen a name similar to my own name so I am sure I will recognize myself. I did not consider being a male in Second Life (SL), I was considering being a Harajuaka or Cybergroth but I was not really sure about these identities so now I am a city chic girl just like in my real life. (I am even looking forward to go shopping for city chic clothing to my avatar). I could also change the identiy completely. I am surprised that most residents in SL have chosen avatars that are similar to their real life personalities. I am happy that my avatar seems to have longer legs and a smaller nose than the real me, but it is interesting that participants do not take the chance to become another character  – maybe a bit younger and fancier – than they are in real life.   I looked around on OI (Orientation Island) for a while, and I have to admit that I am looking forward to get an introduction in class later this week. I am a bit nervous that I will get addicted to SL because like BeckBlogic Weblog I do not know where I should get time to have a second life – without giving up my nice night sleep. But anyway, I want to explore SL with all its creativity in art, music, diplomacy, and other businesses and activities  because I am curious. What is this about? Why are people playing this? The old me (me before this class) was surprised to learn about this huge user generated society with entrepreneurs like artists, bankers (not allowed anymore), and real estate agents. I am also surprised to learn about the SL economy where residents can exchange Linden dollars for US dollars. One thing is that Linden Lab generates a profit but SL residents can convert Linden dollars into real dollars and make some sort of a living. SL residents are earning Linden dollars out of real estate, games, or funky avatar gadgets. I have not heard about any who created a fortune but still….. I am not a big player online, but games can be a great training tool especially if you are trying to communicate with the net-generation. For years, America’s Army has been on my “to do list” so I could learn more about the army, war strategies etc. It is a great recruiting tool. Now I have downloaded it and created an account. I am not patient or tech savvy so I ran out of patience. There were so many things going on. Same thing in SL – but I guess it is easier for me to identify myself with a city chic than a soldier. I also tried out FatWorld, Airport Security and Points of Entry all made by Persuasive Games. The games are effective media for communicating a message to an audience playing online games. I think the messages are clear about nutrition, immigration and airport security: Think about what you eat, think about the unfair standardized immigration system, and think about the ridicules airport (in)security. It is combining Shakespeare tragedy and comic with expressive visual and sounds effects. In that way it can be manipulatining. It is not hard to figure out the political agenda of Persuasive Games, but I guess in other games it could be more difficult to see the context.

There´s no rules

Inspired by Kurtz’ longer blogging style in Washington Post and MacKinnon’s short style I will present my news surf from this week about what I think is interesting and surprising in this wild world of the web. Remember – there’s no rules. Though, you should be cautious of blogging about your job. But maybe not always! 

Surfing the news
Any news about Wikinomics, The Long Tail, The Database of Intentions, Twitter (twittering?),Digg, del.icio.us, and Flickr? I have become addicted to surfing news about these new vocabs in my life. Thanks to GoogleReader and RSS surfing is really an easy way to sort out the information I don’t need.   

Twitter
I don’t get it. But I know I have to dig deeper just like Jeff Jarvis has done. He convinced me that it can be an effective tool for professional use. Who’s interested in my private life of blogging at 1am, baking bread, or shopping at Barnes and Nobles or Barneys – besides advertisers on Facebook and Google?  

Privacy concerns
Just as fascinating the concept of The Database of Intentions is just as scaring it is for privacy matters. Have you tried to change your profile and noticed the shift in ads? Try! Or try like we did in class to target various voters or consumers in Washington DC from www.facebook.com/ads. Are you worried? Or do you think it is a blessing with relevant ads?    

Wikinomics in journalism
Thanks to Jeff Jarvis´Buzzmachine, I have got into this wikinomics of journalism as one more example of how wikinomics are being accepted as a best practice for developing ideas and solutions. The idea of using the wisdom of the crowds instead of a few experts appeals to me. I am looking forward to see the stories that the readers of The Dallas Morning News´ will come back with after studying the new material about the murder of JFK.

Kiva – loans that change life
Social networking is not just about friendship, the long Tail of music, books, or used stuff. Check out Kiva and lend money to entrepreneurs in the developing world. See Bill Clinton´s explanation on You Tube

Do you want to be my Facebook friend?
Does social networking change the concept of friendship? Are Facebookers telling the truth about themselves? Who do you want to make your life accessible to?  

Other questions……
How do we cultivate public opinion or educate citizens/consumers on important issues in the future? How do the government and government agencies handle the challenge of the uncontrolled social media?How do the next president integrate the wisdom of crowds and wikinomics into his or her politics?

Do we need a Bill of Rights for the social web?

Living in a time where markets are conversations and wikinomics is the driving force for innovation there seems to be a contradiction between a Bill of Rights and the social web.  
The new world is described by Tapscott and Williams in their book Wikinomics as “what happens when masses of people and firms collaborate openly to drive innovation and growth in their industries” (p. 11). Collaborating is not just about talking about things but about “peer production that will harness human skill, ingenuity, and intelligence” (p. 18). The principles are openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally. The traditional business model is turned up side down – a thing that Google has also proven – by opening the innovation processes to external experts or users. Companies like Linux, IBM, Lego, Procter and Gamble and others have invited users to take part in their innovation doing that the companies have to share some of their business secrets (open source).  
I guess that is what I do on an individual level using LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google. I share a lot of private information but I trust these companies not to do evil things but to make life easier for me. As Rosie the Third has pointed out I believe individuals benefit from sharing personal information on the social web. Do I and the rest of the users of the social web need legal protection from these companies as I as a citizen get protection of the government in a bill of rights like a constitution?  I do not think so. Social media like Facebook and MySpace are regulated by the trust the users donate to them. If they break the trust of the users they will lose their business. On the other hand, the debate about privacy and Google and Joseph Smarr’s “Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web” show that users are concerned. The users are increasingly asking companies to focus on who own personal information, how the personal information is shared, and how persistent access to personal information to trusted external sites.  
The companies who are harnessing “procumers” communities have learned the hard way that there are new rules of engagement (Trapschott and Williams, 2006:147). These new rules are not written in a bill of rights, but they are experiences that companies entering the new business world can use as best practice.  

The Bill of Rights for the Users of the Social Web is a blog and part of an ongoing conversation and I think that is the right place to address the challenges and the privacy of the users of the social web. The conversations are the bill of rights for the users of social web because they include rights or best practices that are important and essential to the users.

Don’t be evil

I cannot let Google go and have a few more thoughts.
Thank you, Rosie (The Third) for your comment. You are right – we have to trust Google not to do evil things. My impression is like yours that the Brin and Page are aware of the implications of their business and its impact on our society, culture, and life. Their answer to this seems to be the Google truth number one:
“Don’t be evil’.  But how do we define what is evil? I remember reading the story about the shoemaker that Battelle mentions in his book “The Search” in Financial Times a few years ago on a plane to Rome. It made a huge impression. Was Google evil? Google changed some of the algorithms in the search engine and the shoemaker was not among the search results and he lost his business. The shoemaker obviously thinks Google is evil, but I guess Google just improved the search engine for the sake of millions others.  I am really fascinated by Google’s un-conventional business strategy that is also their brand. Don’t be evil and “you can be serious without a suit” are cool truths in the Google world. On the other hand it is odd for a dominating company not to be motivated by money. Is the Chinese market really only interesting because Google can disseminate information and thereby execute its mission and do good? (Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful). Is it a bottom-up approach to create democracy in Communist China? Or is it worth going there because China is the fastest growing e-market right now? No matter what Google is what Barack Obama is for politics these days: the new big thing.  To me Google is the new big thing. Of course I have used a few Google tools like Search engine and IGoogle. During the last month I have added GoogleReader to my daily life. I have just downloaded GoogleEarth (I have checked it out a few years ago but my work computer broke down…and I had to delete it again), and yeh I have seen my house north of Copenhagen. (Have not lived there for a year and a half and I am happy to see that it is still there and the woman who is renting it is taking good care of it. I know – the picture is old because the garden is green).  Now I will also add Google Trends and Zeitgeist.  The Hot Trend today is of course Valentine:

Today’s Hot Trends   (USA)

  1. richard lewis

  2. hallmark.com

  3. free ecards

  4. hoops and yoyo

  5. jane fonda today show

  

  6. hallmark e cards

  7. someecards

  8. some ecards

  9. history of valentines day

10. dayspring

       More Hot Trends »

  I will take a look at the trend once a day for the next week and see what I can get from that. But I have noticed that not one presidential candidate is listed!

The Long Tail and the markets of infinite choice

No wonder that Chris Anderson’s book The Long Tail from 2006 is compared to Gladwell’s The Tipping Point on the back flap of the book. No wonder that Gladwell himself writes in Time 100 2007:  “All writers are in search of the Big Idea. A Big Idea has to matter. But you can have only one of them. Your Big Idea can’t be that there are, say, 89 Rules of Power. E=mc(2) was, technically speaking, a Big Idea. But not really, because the best  Big Ideas are also transparent. Truly Big Ideas are the rarest of phenomena, and when I first came upon Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail last year, I knew this was one.“ 

Gladwell’s description of Anderson’s big idea of The Long Tail as transparent is right on the spot. You got the point from the very beginning (page 2): “Although we still obsess over hits, they are not quite the economic force they once were. Where are those fickle consumers going instead? No single place. They are scattered to the wind as markets fragment into countless niches. The one big growth area is the Web, but it is an uncategorizable sea of million destinations, each defying in its own way the conventional logic of media and marketing.”  The Big Idea is about the success of Netflix, Google, ITunes, Rhapsody, and Amazon. Anderson has been digging through the hard data and economics of these companies (and others) and found The Long Tail.

  The Long Tail

The aggregate market for niche products is huge as the online music industry has experienced. The radical idea of Anderson is that you do not have to follow the hits and mass products to do business. “If the non-hits – from healthy niche products to outright misses – all together added up to a market as big as, if not bigger than, the hits market” (page 8). In other words this means that “the mass market is turning into a mass of niches” (5). Rhapsody, Netflix etc. are still getting a profit from the music or films that only have a few hits every quarter because the costs of having them in store are low.  The fun part of reading The Long Tail is that I can see parts of myself in the Long Tail. I podcast, I netflix, I shop online for niche products because it is easy and because I am a mini-connoisseurs (as Anderson describes it) just like everyone else. On the other hand, I will probably never be so tech-savy as the 16-year-old Ben that Anderson describes. Ben has grown up with broadband, MP3s, cell phones etc. He is used to the choices that I am so overwhelmed of.  

The idea of The Long Tail is fascinating. The writing is fantastic. The book is fun. That is my impression. If you have seen my Facebook today I have been reading and reading. I am not done yet. And I will get back to this topic because it is fascinating, fantastic, and fun.